What is a strengths-based approach?
What do we mean when we use a strengths-based approach when working with children and families? Professor Margaret Sims talks about what a strengths-based approach is in the video below (1.5 mins)
Many areas of family support, health, counselling and welfare are trying to move away from a deficit approach into a strengths-based approach.
For example, an educator who is using a deficit-based approach will observe a group of children who are learning dance and look for those children who have not mastered certain skills, for example, skipping. The educator then focuses on the deficit
to 'fix it up'. The child then feels like all their other steps and skills are ignored, and the focus is on the problem. Instead, if the educator had focussed on what the child is doing well, and then used their obvious abilities to do the other steps
to help guide them into learning to skip, the child would have felt empowered, rather than lacking. This is an example of a strengths-based approach.
When supporting families, a deficit approach is focusing on the problem and tries to solve the problem for the family. A strengths-based approach firstly looks at all the strengths a family has, and there are many. Once all the strengths are listed and acknowledged, then the family themselves talks about the issue they want to be changed. The family are asked how they think they could address the issues and the professional (family worker, educator etc.). Using a strengths-based approach encourages the family to consider what they are already good at, and think about how they can utilise their strengths to solve their current problem.
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